Everything you need to know for the week ahead.
JANUARY 28, 2019

WPT last week caught up with Dave Smith, one of the "Bros" in Smith Bros. Meats in Colby, WI, and longtime member of WPT.

Smith Bros. Meats was established in 1985 by brothers Randy and Charlie smith. According to their website, the company originally started out as a fresh meat retail store and butchering service with complete processing.

Over the years, the brothers decided to expand their services, adding the wholesale side of their business in 1992, and a catering arm in 1996.

"Now, the business is being passed down a generation as sons Jacob, David and Lucas are in the process of taking over," their website says.

Dave tells me that the company employs about 15 people. We asked if Smiths Bros. is currently hiring. Unfortunately for those wishing to join the Smith's Wisconsin success story, Dave tells us "we are fully staffed at this time."

"Our biggest sources of pride are customer service and the quality of meat and food that we produce," Dave said. But that quality comes at the cost of a regulatory thorn in Dave's side.

"The biggest issue we face is probably what we think is an over-regulated meat inspection division at DATCP," he shared.

But on the positive side, Dave also shared a piece of much-welcomed news for our organization and its members: "What my dad really noticed is that our personal property taxes went down substantially!"

The company's overall goal is to provide exceptional cuts of meat, delicious cheeses, and outstanding services in an inviting environment, according to smithbrosmeats.com. "We strive to go above and beyond to ensure all your needs are met and you leave our store with exactly what you want," the site says.

Dave said you can visit his company in person, on the web at smithbrosmeats.com, e-mail them at smithbrosmeats@yahoo.com, or visit them on Facebook. As a WPT member for more than 20 years, we hope you will take the time to patronize this incredible family-owned and quality business!


The state's Department of Workforce Development last week released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates for unemployment and employment numbers for Wisconsin's metro areas, major cities, and counties.

In metropolitan areas, the December 2018 numbers show unemployment rates for Wisconsin's 12 metro areas declined or stayed the same when compared over the year to December 2017. The largest over-the-year decrease occurred in Wausau, which saw a drop of 0.2 percent. The Janesville-Beloit and Racine metro areas tied their lowest unemployment rate on record.

For municipalities, the preliminary December numbers show unemployed rates declined or stayed the same in 26 of Wisconsin's 32 largest cities. The largest over-the-year decrease occurred in Franklin, which declined by 0.4 percent. The rates ranged from the lowest 1.9 percent in Fitchburg, Madison, and Sun Prairie to the highest of 3.8 percent in Racine. Wausau, Racine, Neenah, Milwaukee, Kenosha, Janesville, Green Bay, Fond du Lac, and Beloit all tied or set a new record for their lowest unemployment rate.

The data for counties shows unemployment declined or stayed the same in 52 of Wisconsin's 72 counties from December 2017 to December 2018. The largest declined occurred in Florence County, which saw an unemployment reduction of 0.8 percent. Dane County had the state's lowest unemployment rate of 1.9 percent. Rock, Racine, and Milwaukee Counties tied their record low unemployment rates.

Governor Tony Evers last week announced his intentions to commit $31 million in his upcoming budget plan to help Marinette Marine with their shipbuilder and shipyard expansion and infrastructure projects.

The governor said the ultimate purpose of the expansion project will assist the Wisconsin corporation in competing for a $10 billion shipbuilding contract. The expansion will also help Marinette Marine maintain its 1,500 employees and add an additional 400 full time jobs.

Evers drew the praise of several high-ranking GOP lawmakers, including Co-Chairman of the powerful Joint Finance Committee, Representative John Nygren. "Today, I am pleased to see Governor Evers announce that he has committed to making Marinette Marine a priority in his budget," Nygren said in his statement.

According to his statement, Rep. Nygren has played a pivotal role in helping shepherd crucial investments for the Northeastern Wisconsin shipbuilding economy, putting Wisconsin on the world stage.

"Marinette Marine is a source of pride for Wisconsin, and employs thousands of Wisconsinites in good-paying, family-supporting jobs. Their success is an essential part of the Marinette community and local economy," Governor Evers' statement said. "This partnership is a win for workers, a win for Marinette, and a win for Wisconsin. We look forward to supporting Marinette Marine's efforts to win this contract and to their continued success for years to come."

Last week, Governor Evers said he would likely include "first steps" towards legalization of medical marijuana in Wisconsin. He also eluded to the fact that medical marijuana would lead the way for full legalization, and that he would be interested in holding a statewide referendum on the issue.

Republican leaders did not take kindly to the remarks. Shortly after the governor's comments, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said that, while generally supportive of medical marijuana, he does not want to see that lead the state down "a slippery slope where there's pot on every corner."

He also implied that the governor's comments might have "poisoned the conversation," before it really even began. Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke confirmed that the Assembly Republican Caucus would not be supportive of any proposal that would lead to full legalization.

In his State of the State address last week, Governor Evers said he was fulfilling a campaign promise and was directing Attorney General Josh Kaul to withdraw Wisconsin from the multi-state lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act.

The very next day, Evers sent a letter to Kaul, withdrawing the authority, and calling on Kaul to remove the state from the suit. The very same day, Governor Evers then changed course and said he would not seek to remove Wisconsin from the lawsuit.

It's unclear why Governor Evers would do a complete reversal from his State of the State address, particularly knowing that he is legally unable to direct the Attorney General from lawsuits, and the Attorney General (since the 'lame duck' bills became law) needs approval from the Joint Finance Committee to withdraw.

But it did not strike a great note with GOP lawmakers, who said that Evers was throwing around "partisan rhetoric," and making promises that he legally cannot keep as Governor.

A continuing resolution was passed which has allowed for a large portion of the U.S. government to re-open after the longest shutdown in American history. In short, the President agreed to re-open the government while his negotiations continued.

But the re-opening is only guaranteed for a mere three weeks, and in that time, President Trump and Democrat members of Congress are expected to come to some form of agreement on border security, and funding for the president's signature wall. It is unclear on how close, if at all, the two parties are on reaching any form of agreement.

"21 days goes very quickly Negotiations with Democrats wills tart immediately. Will not be easy to make a deal, both parties very dug in. The case for National Security has been greatly enhanced by what has been happening at the Border & through dialogue. We will build the Wall!" Trump said in a Tweet on Saturday.

Federal employees will receive back pay, and all museums and national parks will re-open. The IRS will also open full operations again.

Starting yesterday, the U.S. Postal Service bumped the cost of a stamp in the largest percentage increase since 1991. The price to mail a 1st Class letter is now 55 cents. The cost of the popular "forever" stamps were also raised to 55 cents.

Prior to Sunday's move by the USPS, the largest percentage increase to prices was in 1991, when the cost rose from 25 cents to 29 cents. Priority mail also jumped nearly 6 percent, with a small package going from $7.20 to $7.90.

In 2018, the U.S. Postal Service reported a net loss of $3.9 billion, citing lower overall usage and the rising costs of health care and pensions. The last increase to the stamps was about a year ago, when the price of a stamp went from 49 cents to 50 cents.

The cost of insulin for treating Type 1 diabetes in the United States has nearly doubled over the past five years, according to the nonprofit Health Care Cost Institute.

A person with Type 1 diabetes paid insulin costs of approximately $5,705 on average in 2016 when the data was collected. That's compared to $2,864 in 2012. According to the report, the numbers represent the combined amount paid by the individual patient and their health insurance plans. Rebates are not reflected.

According to the study, the rises in costs are still persisting, and those costs have led some patients to "ration" their medications because they could no longer afford the out-of-pocket costs." According to one report, the rising costs have also led to protests outside of insulin markers' headquarters.

The Health Care Cost Institute estimates that the cost has risen due to the actual cost of insulin itself, and a move towards more expensive insulin products. Their report shows that daily insulin usage only rose 3 percent over the same period in which the cost essentially doubled. The insulin makers themselves said they are often forced to raise prices to help "offset steep rebates" that are required to be offered in order to be covered by insurance plans.

In a statement from the Department of Revenue; "WIsconsin's tax season, like the federal season, officially begins today. The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) expects filing activity will be brisk, particularly the first few weeks and then last few weeks of the season."

This year's individual income tax filing deadline is Monday, April 15

"DOR would like to remind taxpayers not to file until they have all their tax documents. Having to file an amended return later will significantly delay a refund," their statement said.

The Department of Revenue encourages all taxpayers to use their "free, fast and accurate" Wisconsin E-File system, and to submit their returns online.


  Assembly GOP leaders and Governor Evers evidently agree on providing a 10% income tax reduction to Wisconsin residents. They disagree on how to pay for it. Which plan do you support?  
The current rate of taxation doesn't fund the need to repair our infrastructure, fund our schools, pay for health care. Cutting taxes will make that all worse and is truly insane. But go ahead, politicians. We can count on you to always make the wrong decision to keep yourselves in power.

Use any excess money to pay for road repair

Paying for a tax break for our citizens by taking more tax money from Employers and Farmers will not accomplish what a tax reduction is supposed to do. It would be no different than taxing Hospitals more so they could give tax breaks to Doctors and Nurses. Those additional taxes to the Hospital would simply be passed down as higher costs to the consumers and everybody still loses.

The surplus should be used for infrastructure.

Because we are farmers and are struggling enough already.

Why should manu's and farmers get whacked?

Use surplus to help pay for roads.

This choice will be a one and done.

Sounds like some have lose so others benefit. Farmers and manufacturing need the tax credit.

I see where Governor Evers wants to take away agriculture tax credit he most understand that agriculture in this state is in a very poor financial condition

get the money from sales tax

I voted in the middle. I think that we have enough cuts for the moment. Let's stop lowering the take, stop raising the take, and start MAKING IT WORK. By God, this bickering has got to stop sooner or later. Just figure out what the priority is. Roads? Great, blow your money on roads, but keep everything else the same for a cycle.

Plenty of places that "surplus" could be used. I want a tax cut, not a redistribution...

refund a over payment, not send manufacturing and ag out the state

I don't think the tax decrease will make any difference and I am concerned we are stating ourselves up to have huge deficit in coming years!


No way this governor's ever going to support a tax cut.

Governor Evers has indicated that his budget proposal will likely include a "first step" towards legalizing medical marijuana. Where do you stand?
I've never tried it, but marijuana sales in Wisconsin is inevitable. The sooner it's regulated and taxed, the better.
Why not?
There are so many people who would feel better if they had medical marijuana.
It is the beginning step to legalizing dope ala Colorado. Just read an article where counties are being squeezed trying to pay for foster care for kids from homes where parents are dopers. Why do we need to make things worse?
I understand that it may help people with specific issues
It has medical benefit in many cases. Stop at that--NO RECREATIONAL leagalization!!
If its helps the people that need it,, do it.
A"Gateway" drug to things far worse
The next thing he will want to legalize marijuana, we enough drugies already in this state
I've met marijuana users, and past marijuana users. I'm very skeptical about it for medicine. And frankly, I'm interested to know how many use it for medicine and are hooked from there on.
first step to full legalization, finally.
legalizing marijuana will make drug companies richer and work force pool lower
He is trying to appease his base
Medicinal. Clearly define and limit.

Two farmers have sued the Evers Administration over wedding barns. The state requires liquor licenses for alcohol served in public spaces, but the law does not define "public." Should a private venue on private property hosting a private event be considered "public" under the law?  

Less regulation = better. The Tavern League makes enough money.

To serve alcohol they should have to follow the same rules as taverns.

IF the Barn wants to sell and profit from alcohol served at their venue then they should be required to have a liquor license. IF the participants are providing the alcohol a license should not be required. There are safeguards in place like requiring a licensed bartender to oversee the distribution of alcohol but a license should not be required.

What is next.... requiring the City (municipality) to have a liquer license for the public parks where "party(s)" are held ??

No No No !The Tavern League lobbyists strike again!!!

If there is no cash bar then it is public in my opinion

Hope crashers can be monitored.

If they are not in business of regularly doing it,, I say yes they should be able to have Weddings.

People are there by invitation and are not charged for alcohol.

I go back when was married alot of weddings were on the property of the bride and groom parents paid for alcohol that was served. Then we went to private business who where licensed to service alcohol. I been to weddings in wedding barns and again bride or groom parents furnish alcohol with no problems. What I see is another way to correct fee.

I do not think that a wedding barn should be considered public. I think that maybe we just find a different way to classify those sites, and let them continue to operate. That is a BUSINESS and BUSINESS is GOOD.

When the facility applies for the contidtional use permit as this is not an agriculture use, they should be aware that this MAY open them up to rules about sensible beverage service but this is still a private party so I don't see more rules requirng a permit as a solution. when

If they are getting paid for the use of their barns then they should be considered public

Wisconsin has a drinking problem regulate it all

Another government overreach

I'd like to turn my garage into a bar on weekends to make extra cash. How is that different than a wedding barn?

A federal judge has said that GOP lawmakers violated a liberal group's constitutional rights to free speech when they blocked the group on Twitter. Do you think elected officials should be allowed to block accounts on social media?
If a politician blocked the public from mailing them letters or email, yes, that would be unconstitutional. Blocking from Twitter because they are a-holes? Not so much.

Social Media sites must have their own policies in place to protect the public from offensive, obscene and vulgar postings and they, the social media site must be responsible for the content that they allow.

If I don't want to hear/read something, I don't. It's my choice to block who I want to hear from.

Anyone should be allowed to block anyone they wish.

All in all ,I think we would be a lot better off without so much social media!

I think it is unfortunate that a judge can dictate what you have to allow on your twitter account...this comes from a guy that does not use twitter.

It seem to me that if liberals do not get their they file a lawsuit

Free Speech is critical for the survival of this nation. Free Speech that shows your flaws or lack of character or horrible failures means you should have done better. Harsh, yes, but Truth... yes.... Free Speech also means we have to wade through a mess of mouthing off, too. I think that our politicians and political activists and such need to "put on their big boy pants" and understand that if you start slinging mud, or snowballs with rocks in it, you'd better be prepared to receive it back. And maybe some of the sleazy politicians should just get and stay out of the arena, too.

Public servants. Ignoring people that did not vote for them. Way to put the blinders on!

They can block anyone they want on their personal accounts, but if they have an account as an elected official, they should not be allowed to block the people they were elected to serve.

Not sure how lawmakers would actually phyically block a group on Twitter. I can block them from my devices and if I do that is my business. If I block them on my companies devices again my business. We have a no locial media ban in our office - for everyone.

Of course they should be able to block them or anyone else. What next, a requirement to answer all phone calls? Perhaps television commercial that you can turn off or change the channel? Communicate with who you chose as long as they chose to listen. Could be a slippery slope.

Isn't Twitter a private platform? Who else can an activist judge demand listen to extremism? Are our representatives not citizens? Can they not shut out vitriol?

It is the policy of WPT, Inc. to publish all comments that are submitted by members each week, often including broad differences of opinion within the weekly responses. Our organization values our role in fostering dialogue within our membership each week, but does not take responsibility for the individual views and opinions expressed herein.     
No bills to report.

LRB-1327  Memo  Terminology Changes (Jagler, John ) Terminology changes for those with an intellectual disability in administrative rules. Deadline: Friday, January 25

LRB-0150  Memo  Condemnation Authority (Risser, Fred ) Condemnation authority for recreational trails. Deadline: Thursday, January 31

LRB-1371  Memo  Certificates of Qualification (Darling, Alberta ) Creating a procedure for granting certificates of qualification for employment for persons convicted of a crime and making an appropriation. Deadline: Friday, February 1, 5 pm

LRB-1140  Memo  Deer Poaching Surcharge (Petrowski, Jerry) A higher wild animal protection surcharge for the unlawful taking of deer. Deadline: Thursday, January 31, Noon

LRB-0947  Memo  DA Private Practice (Horlacher, Cody ) Allowing district attorneys, deputy district attorneys, and assistant district attorneys to engage in the private practice of law for certain civil purposes. Deadline: Friday, February 1, 5 pm

LRB-1258  Memo  School Report Information (Kitchens, Joel ) Information on the school district and school accountability report. Deadline: Monday, February 4, 5 pm

LRB-0534  Memo  CAFO Permit Fee (Cowles, Rob ) Permit fees for concentrated animal feeding operations. Deadline: Tuesday, February 5, 4 pm

LRB-0895  Memo  Home Dialysis (Darling, Alberta ) Dispensing, distributing, or selling dialysate, drugs, or devices necessary for providing home peritoneal kidney dialysis. Deadline: Thursday, February 7, 4 pm

LRB-0906  Memo  Paddlewheel Raffles (Jacque, Andre ) Paddlewheel raffles. Deadline: Thursday, February 7, 5 pm

LRB-0219  Memo  Apprenticeship Grants (Jacque, Andre ) Grants to technical college students for apprenticeship expenses and making an appropriation. Deadline: Thursday, February 7, 5 pm

LRB-1159  Memo  Apprenticeship Tuition Deduction (Jacque, Andre ) Creating individual and corporate income and franchise tax deductions for tuition paid for apprenticeship programs. Deadline: Thursday, February 7, 5 pm

LRB-1201  Memo  Advisory Referendum (Subeck, Lisa ) An advisory referendum on an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Deadline: Friday, February 8, Noon

LRB-1453  Memo  Prohibiting Animal Killing Contests (Risser, Fred ) Prohibiting contests for killing wild animals and providing a penalty. Deadline: Friday, February 1